Oregon Governor Enacts Outdoor Mask Mandate — Even For Those Who Are Fully Vaccinated

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has enacted a statewide outdoor mask mandate beginning on Friday.

Masks will be mandatory in all outdoor public settings where social distancing is not possible, even for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Democrat governor said in a statement.

“The Delta variant is spreading fast and wide, throwing our state into a level of crisis we have not yet seen in the pandemic,” the governor said in a statement. “Cases and hospitalizations are at a record high. Masks are a quick and simple tool we can immediately deploy to protect ourselves and our families, and quickly help stop further spread of COVID-19.”

In a tweet announcing the mandate, Governor Brown said she is “continuing to take actions to protect Oregonians and save lives.”

“Under the Governor’s direction, the OHA rule will require masks for all individuals — regardless of vaccination status — in outdoor settings in which individuals from different households are unable to consistently maintain physical distance,” the governor’s office said. “The rule does not apply to fleeting encounters, such as two individuals walking by one another on a trail or in a park. While the rule does not apply to outdoor gatherings at private residences, masks are strongly recommended in those settings when individuals from different households do not consistently maintain physical distance.”

The New York Times reported in May that outdoor transmission rate of the coronavirus is less than 1%, which stands in stark contrast with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggested the number was around 10%.

“That benchmark ‘seems to be a huge exaggeration,’ as Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St. Andrews, said. In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me. The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation,” the New York Times report explained. “Saying that less than 10 percent of Covid transmission occurs outdoors is akin to saying that sharks attack fewer than 20,000 swimmers a year. (The actual worldwide number is around 150.) It’s both true and deceiving.”

The mandate will not apply to children under five, people who are homeless, those engaging in competitive sports, or people delivering an outdoor speech or performance.

Of course, masks are also already mandatory indoors across the state.

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